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Virginia Tech Students Get Creative in Ware Labs
March 31, 2010

Members of the Virginia Tech Blind Driver Challenge team, part of the Robotics and Mechanics Laboratory, have built a vehicle that one day could allow blind and low-vision people to drive. The vehicle was assembled and rigged with high-tech gear inside the Ware Lab. At far left is Kimberly Wenger, the student team's current leader.

In a nondescript building on the Virginia Tech campus, students don’t just sit and learn about engineering through lecture. They do it.

They build engines and electronic components. Wings and propellers of miniature airplanes are created. Race cars, submersibles, and intricate miniature bridges all are at the center of brainstorming and hands-on work.

The students volunteer long hours, often at night after classrooms go dark, and get their hands dirty. And they say they love the work.

These are the opportunities offered at the Joseph F. Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Laboratory, tucked away in a former laundry used by the corps of cadets and university faculty. The facility is the cornerstone of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s efforts to provide undergraduate students with a hands-on experience that will better prepare them to enter the workforce.

Companies have taken note. Organizations such as MathWorks, National Instruments,Volvo, Siemens, and Lockheed Martin sponsor the Ware Lab. Many have donated money and equipment, sent representatives to tour the lab, and mentored students on such projects as the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) and the Solar Decathlon Team.

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